Abby McDonald gives L.A. the Jane Austen treatment in this contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility. Hallie and Grace Weston have never exactly seen life eye to eye. So when their father dies and leaves everything to his new wife, forcing the girls to pack up and leave San Francisco for a relative’s house in shiny Beverly Hills, the two sisters take to their changing lot in typically different styles. Shy, responsible Grace manages to make friends with an upbeat, enterprising girl named Palmer but still yearns ...
Abby McDonald gives L.A. the Jane Austen treatment in this contemporary take on Sense and Sensibility. Hallie and Grace Weston have never exactly seen life eye to eye. So when their father dies and leaves everything to his new wife, forcing the girls to pack up and leave San Francisco for a relative’s house in shiny Beverly Hills, the two sisters take to their changing lot in typically different styles. Shy, responsible Grace manages to make friends with an upbeat, enterprising girl named Palmer but still yearns for her old life — and the maybe-almost-crush she left behind. Meanwhile, drama queen Hallie is throwing herself headlong into life — and love — in L.A., spending every second with gorgeous musician Dakota and warding off the attention of brooding vet Brandon. But is Hallie blinded by the stars in her eyes? And is Grace doomed to forever hug the sidelines?
Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility gets another makeover in this soapy romp. McDonald (Getting Over Garrett Delaney) sticks closely to the original plot, while bringing the story into the present. Teenage sisters Grace and Hallie get kicked out of their house, along with their artist mother, after the girls’ father dies intestate, and their father’s new wife, Portia, takes all of his money. Luckily, their mother has a wealthy TV producer cousin, who invites them to live in his Beverly Hills guesthouse. Shy, practical Grace says goodbye to her crush (Portia’s younger brother) and silently aches for him all summer; fiery aspiring actress Hallie snubs the young Iraq War veteran next door in favor of a sexy rising rock star, who rescues her from drowning. McDonald creates a jaunty melodrama filled with fun, if familiar, characters; third-person narration shifts focus between the sisters, who both feel the push and pull between reason and passion. Fans of the original will enjoy exploring the reimagined characters, relationships, and dramas, while readers uninitiated in Austen can still appreciate the spirited romantic ride. Ages 14–up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Apr.)
- Heather Robertson Mason
The only thing Hallie and Grace have in common are their parents. Grace is shy, responsible, and inclined to see life realistically. Hallie is emotional, spontaneous, and full of dreams. When their father dies and leaves all his money and property—including the house the girls are living in—to his new wife, the girls are left homeless and destitute until a rich uncle agrees to take them in. Finding themselves in sunny Beverly Hills, Hallie launches into a passionate relationship with Dakota, a gorgeous but fickle musician, while ignoring the quiet attentions of neighbor Brandon. Grace, however, relives the almost kiss with Theo, knowing it could never happen again. Both girls have a lot to learn about love. This novel is a fairly faithful retelling of the Austen classic Sense and Sensibility, as the title makes painfully obvious. For the most part, the changes made were only to modernize it and this worked. For example, dashing society man John Willoughby who woos Marianne and eventually marries elsewhere for money becomes Dakota, an up-and-coming musician who begins a relationship with Hallie but leaves her to start dating an infamous society girl in order to gain press. The main problem with this book is its timeliness; two girls who spend most of their time pining for their lost loves does not seem to reflect modern attitudes towards dating. While some readers will love the melodrama, the best use for this book is in a classroom as a comparison to the original. It is well-written, but old-fashioned. Reviewer: Heather Robertson Mason
School Library Journal
Gr 8–10—Hallie and Grace couldn't be more different. Grace is practical and steady, while her older sister is given to hysterical fits and dramatic mood swings. So when their father dies unexpectedly, the siblings grieve in their own ways. When it's discovered that he left everything he owned to his second wife, Grace tries to think of ways to keep the family in their home, while Hallie sinks into despair. A rescue comes from an unlikely source-the girls' distant cousin Auggie, a movie director. He welcomes them and their mother to Beverly Hills and his home. Hallie believes that this will be the beginning of a new chapter for her and the launch of her acting career. Grace hopes things will be better, but doesn't hold out much hope. Nothing is as it seems in Hollywood. The story alternates between the sisters. There are similarities to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, as the story is promoted as a contemporary take on the classic. There are some references to alcohol and sex. Purchase where clean romances and the author's other novels are popular.—Natalie Struecker, Rock Island Public Library, IL
This modernization of Sense and Sensibility follows the classic book's basic plot, with the action set mostly in today's Hollywood. Grace is steady and hopes for a career in science; Hallie's determined to become an actress and routinely gives in to her volcanic emotions. Their father has just died without a will, leaving the girls' socialite stepmother in complete control of the considerable fortune. She cuts the family off without a penny. The girls and their impractical artist mother move into the guesthouse owned by their TV–movie producer cousin in Beverly Hills. By then, sensible Grace has fallen for her stepmother's brother, now out of reach at Stanford. Emotional Hallie meets musician Dakota and falls massively, almost catastrophically in love. McDonald's update to Austen's plot works. Broken into five parts, the story alternates between Grace and Hallie as lead characters. Readers can laugh at Hallie's excesses and despair at Grace's reticence, but both characters come across as admirable in the end. Readers familiar with the original will enjoy seeing McDonald's spin, and those who are not will get the benefit of the tried-and-true plot all the same. (Romance. 12 & up)